Wrapping up a week on the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts with K & the Wee Baby T, I look back and can’t believe how easy it was to be out for a full day’s hike once we knew what we were doing. We learned some tips for packing from our trip to Spain, but actually spending a full day in nature and away from the refrigerator and a crib was a new challenge. Save yourself the learning curve, here’s some helpful tips for a full-day outing with an infant:
Know the schedule and try to maintain it.
Infants and toddlers live for routine, and most do very poorly with change. If at all possible keep feeding times and nap schedules as close to regular timing as possible. For us that meant packing lunches and stopping on the trail, keeping our hikes short so T wouldn’t fall asleep until we were back in the car, or long so he could have an hour of sleep in the Phil & Teds.
On the subject of food:
Introduce your little one to travel friendly foods’ before you venture out. Cooler bags with an ice pack work great for keeping food cold for the day,but spoon feeding a cold puree isn’t easy when your little one is packed away in a backpack. If your little one is on solids try Tofu, steamed carrots, eggs, peas, and cheerios. anything that they can feed themselves will work perfectly. Don’t forget to pack food for yourself too! You’ll be burning some calories out there and probably working a lot harder than you’re used to. Power bars are great and there are plenty of options. Doughnuts? Well they may be delicious, but they’re sticky and make a mess. Coffee is always good though.
Know where you are and where you’re going:
This should be common sense, but a lot of trail maps aren’t very specific or accurate). Make sure you know where the trail is and let your loved ones know which area you will be hiking in on any given day. While we wanted to ‘unplug’ for the week we made an exception for one phone. We downloaded maps from google (type “ok maps” in the search bar of google maps. Handy!) and used the GPS. While most of the trails weren’t in Google we could still mark where the car was parked and see where we were relative to major roads, which helped us navigate trail maps. Also, can’t knock a portable camera.
Don’t forget the tunes!
Yes, you want to be out in Nature, and this is a great time to bond with family, but it’s also a great time to get eaten by bears. Bears have terrible vision, and if you are down-wind they won’t smell you coming. Having some music playing will let them know you are coming and they’ll scatter before you even know they’re there. Sure you want to see a deer or a moose, but is it worth getting eaten?
Use a stick.
I know, those people walking along with hiking sticks that they bought at Walmart look ridiculous, but I can’t stress how much easier it is to hike when you have a stick to help keep your balance. With T on my back my weight distribution could shift dramatically. Having an extra point of contact with the ground definitely helped. Also, it helped find loose rocks and deep mud before I took a step. Check the trail signs, often times people will leave good sturdy sticks behind when they are finished with a section of the trail, or just keep your eyes out as you start your hike – they should be everywhere.
Good luck out there!